It’s still 1637. The month is November and
the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony has appointed a committee to establish a college at Newtown. Among them is an
Oxford graduate but all the rest come from Cambridge or have connections with the other University so it’s not surprising
that the name of Newtown is changed to Cambridge.
Three of the Cambridge alumni are involved with the setting up.
Nathaniel Eaton, attended Trinity College but did not graduate. The other two did. Henry Dunster from Magdalene and John Harvard from Emmanuel. Both the Dunster and Harvard families arrived here this year from England aboard the Hector or its
consort ship, but it is Eaton that features in the history of the College as its first head, taking up his appointment in
the Spring of 1637. It proves to be an appalling choice. He turns out not only be avaricious, miserly giving his students
skimpy food and beer but also sadistic, meting out horrific punishments. The meagre diet is illustrated on the left of the
top scene, the cruelty, on the right. Eaton is shown glaring across at two fearful students, having just beaten his recently
hired usher behind him, with a walnut tree big enough to have killed a horse. This inexcusable action is the final straw for
the college authorities. He’s fired, flees to England where in years to come, he’ll die in a debtors’ prison.
His replacement as first President, is Henry Dunster.
Wealthy John Harvard, born in Southwark (see 1607 panel) has brought with him to America his servants and 300 book library. They’re
shown here, together with his late brother Thomas’ treasure chest, marked ‘TH’, his boxed chamber pot ‘CP’,
and a moth squadron fluttering to their candle-flame doom. But tragically, Harvard’s demise is near too, for soon he
falls very ill and takes to his bed. There, despite his doctor prescribing leeches, pills and potions, Harvard realises that
he is dying, so makes an oral Will and leaves half his £1700 fortune to the new College. In gratitude the authorities
rename it yet again and finally to HARVARD.